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Anong tinatago? House panel secretly approves “cha-cha” in executive session

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By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

The House Committee on Constitutional Amendments has discreetly approved a resolution seeking to amend the 1987 Constitution by lift the current economics restriction provisions and elevate to five years the fix term of elected officials.

Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, panel chair, has confirmed that a joint House Resolution pushing for Charter Change (Cha-cha) was approved by members of his committee in an executive session.

The approval of Rodriguez’s panel came even if President Rodrigo Duterte has already made it clear that Cha-cha and federalism will no longer be a priority in his remaining years in Malacañang .

The still unnumbered Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) specifically seeks to amend Articles 6, 10, 12, 14, and 16 of the current charter and it will have to be approved by three-fourths of both House of Representatives and the Senate, voting separately.

Deputy Minority Floor Leader Carlos Zarate has scored the manner the proposal was approved in an executive session since only 10 members panel have for the measure while four opposed it.

Zarate slammed the procedure, saying that “Charter change by legislation” is not provided for under the Constitution.

The party-list solon from Bayan Muna said Rodriguez’s panel wants a “smoother discussion” that’s why the deliberation was held on closed-door.

In defense, Rodriguez said the matter was discussed and voted in an executive session since they no longer needed to invite additional resource persons.

“There were no more officials that are invited. We have heard all of them already,” he told reporters. “Wala kaming tinatago.”

The measure seeks to lift the economic restrictions of the post-EDSA charter by adding the phrase “unless, otherwise provided by law” in specific areas of the 1987 Constitution—natural resources, foreign ownership of land, media, education and advertising.

Meanwhile, Rodriguez said the panel took its cue from House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano over the fixing the terms of lawmakers to five years and capable of three consecutive re-elections.

Cayetano earlier proposed either a four-year term with no term limits or a five-year term for congressmen and senators which will be limited to three terms or a total of 15 years.

Under the measure, the President and the Vice President will be elected in tandem just like in the United States to allow country’s top leaders to implement their programs without any threat of a power play.

Meanwhile, the proposal increases the number of senators from 12 to 27 or three per region.

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